By ecoRI News staff
AQUIDNECK ISLAND, R.I. — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Law Enforcement is seeking information about two recent incidents on Aquidneck Island of coyotes injured by illegal leg-hold traps. Anyone with information on who set these traps is asked to call 401-222-3070.
At this time of year, coyotes may often be seen in populated areas in search of food, according to state officials. Coyotes that find abundant food sources around neighborhoods may become bold and habituated to being fed, creating situations that are detrimental to the animal and can also put the public in danger. The public is advised to not feed or have food sources available that can be easily accessed by coyotes and other wildlife.
On April 4, a coyote was spotted in Portsmouth attempting to access a chicken coop. The animal was legally shot by the property owner, who noticed the coyote had a leg-hold trap on its leg and reported the incident to DEM. Two weeks prior, a coyote was spotted in Middletown with a leg-hold trap. The animal sustained significant damages from the trap and was euthanized for humane purposes. Both incidents are being investigated.
Under state law, penalties for illegal traps are punishable by a fine not to exceed $500, by imprisonment not to exceed one year, or both. Any person found guilty will have his or her trapping license and privilege to trap revoked for one year from the date of conviction. By state law, anyone who maliciously wounds an animal is subject to a penalty of up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000.
The public is reminded, according to state officials, to:
Keep bird feeders out of reach of wild animals. Natural food sources for birds are plentiful at this time of year.
Don’t feed pets outside, or, if you do, take pet food dishes inside at night.
Store garbage in sheds and garages, away from doors.
Put garbage for pickup outside the morning of collection, not the night before.
Keep barbecue grills clean of grease.
Don’t put meat or sweet food scraps in your compost pile.
Enjoy wildlife from a distance.